Jason Yannuzzi
St. Luke’s, Lebanon

Where can I go from your spirit?

Or where can I flee from your presence?

If I ascend to heaven, you are there;

if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there.
Psalm 139:7-8

(Part I of II)

At Saint Luke’s in Lebanon, among other things, I am tasked with leading Church Growth and Development and am our substitute organist. It is an honor to be asked to share my thoughts about pilgrimage. Recently I was so fortunate as to be able to thru hike the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine, and this journey quickly transcended walking and became perhaps the most important faith experience I have endured. Although I learned many things and changed in many ways on my hike, I believe that it was God’s will for me to develop in my ability to be patient and to listen.

Getting started hiking the Appalachian Trial was a monumental experience. I boarded a Greyhound bus in Norfolk VA bound for Gainsville GA. In the last hour of the 10-hour trip, the driver got lost and we arrived three hours late to our destination. I was ferried the 2-hour drive from Gainsville to Amicalola State Park by a local driver who dropped me off at the foot of the 9-mile approach trail which leads you up the largest falls east of the Mississippi (before you can even get to the start of the Appalachian Trial). Finally, I summited Springer Mountain and took the first of what would be approximately five million steps toward Mount Katahdin in Maine.

My excitement in that first step was almost immediately eclipsed by sheer worry that it had taken me two days to even get to the start of the trail, and that I had to hike 2176 miles to get to Katahdin! Like many of us, I am a person who thrives on results and the sinking feeling in my stomach regarding the slowness of progress in this situation needed to be addressed. Luckily, all I had was time and miles to reflect on this insecurity and it became comfortable for me to accept each day’s progress as a victory toward a really big goal. It became evident to me why, in some religions, they believe that walking cleanses one of their sins. All that exists is time for you to work out your soul. Mile after mile added up and I was able to see progress. This is what I think of when I think of patience.

(To be continued)